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Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Week 6 comparison

Checking out how Tom Brady fares at age 44 in comparison to how he played in Week 6 at ages 24 and 34.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady already is over 2,000 yards passing for the season with 17 touchdowns.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady already is over 2,000 yards passing for the season with 17 touchdowns. [ MATT ROURKE | Associated Press ]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 15

C’mon now, Tom Brady can’t really be better than ever at age 44, can he? Common sense says no, but the numbers would disagree. Brady’s performance in his debut season in Tampa Bay last year exceeded the 16-game averages for his career. With that in mind, we figured it might be fun to compare Brady’s weekly numbers in 2021 (at 44) with his stats in 2011 (at 34) and 2001 (at 24).

The 24-year-old Brady in Game 6

Brady faced Peyton Manning and the Colts in two of his first four games as a starter in the NFL. As it turned out, Brady went head to head with Manning more than any other quarterback. Brady finished with an 11-6 record in their rivalry, although Manning won two of their meetings in AFC Championship Games. In this game in 2001, Brady was an efficient 16-of-20 for three touchdowns in a 38-17 New England victory. His 91-yard touchdown pass to David Patten is still the second longest of his career.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 6

Another week, another fourth-quarter comeback for Brady. The Patriots were trailing the Cowboys 16-13 with 2:31 remaining and the ball at their own 20. Brady had been a little a shaky with two early interceptions, but was nearly perfect on the winning drive. He was 8-of-9 for 78 yards on the drive and converted a third and short with a 2-yard run. He threw an 8-yard touchdown to Aaron Hernandez for the winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 6

Tom Brady (12) looks for tight end O.J. Howard (80) for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Tom Brady (12) looks for tight end O.J. Howard (80) for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. [ Tribune News Service ]

Blame this one on Brady’s standards. When you’ve been as hot as the Bucs quarterback has been in recent weeks, you tend to expect fireworks on every drive. That wasn’t the case against the Eagles. Brady completed a lot of short passes and screens, but wasn’t quite as sharp as usual. Still, most quarterbacks would gladly accept a night of 34-of-42 for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Brady did throw his first interception since Week 1, ending his team-record streak at 228 passes without a pick.

Season totals through Game 6

Brady in 2001

Completed 79-of-131 for 866 yards, with five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 3-1 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 160-of-237 for 2,163 yards, with 16 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 5-1 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 183-of-267 for 2,064 yards with 17 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 5-1 record.

The breakdown

Six weeks into the season, Brady is averaging 344 passing yards a game. That’s ahead of the pace of Manning’s NFL record of 342.3 yards set in 2013 when he was a mere pup of 37. So, yeah, it’s probably safe to say that Brady is still playing at an elite level. More explosive than he was in his 20s, just as crafty as he was in his 30s. Let the debate continue for another week.

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John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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